What is most valuable?
What I like about the latest that they came out with is that 10.2 looks like it's going to be better, and they added a web console. I like the HTML5 fact of it, because it's a lot easier for me to get to my admins and other elements like that so they can look at their own stuff without having to sift through a bunch of stuff. I really like the web console addition, and from what I see from the 10.2, the whole thing is going to be HTML5. I really think that that's going to be real beneficial as far as me getting people convinced to use it and to actually look at it, instead of coming to me all the time for help.
How has it helped my organization?
It helped, basically, because we are working on root cause analysis. If we were to have outages, we really didn't know what the problem was, we just knew we had a server down. With Spectrum, we can do a root cause analysis by building topologies and we can actually tell you what port went bad on what device. Instead of just knowing that the device went down, we can know why it went down and exactly what happened.
What needs improvement?
If 10.2 goes completely to HTML5, I think that's going to be awesome. Just give everybody a website and tell them to log in and it'll be single-sign-on login, too, so they don't even have to remember another password. There is value in that alone, just trying to get people to log in and use it themselves, see it, and monitor it. They can monitor their own stuff and if something is wrong, I can do the tweaking, but at least they could see what's going on. I don't have to sit there and look at a dashboard and call everybody up and say, "Hey, your server's got an alert" because they don't want to mess with the Java console. They don't want to install whatever they have to, in order to do it themselves. I don't know, I call it laziness, but they're busy too. If it could fix it itself, that would be great! I think the way they're headed now with the roadmap and the visions that I saw. I really think that any improvements that they're going to make will be made in this next release. Basically, what I'm seeing right now, I think the improvements are happening..
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We haven't really had any stability issues with it, now that they've actually did some more upgrades. The biggest problem we had with it at the beginning was just the Java console. You had to have an older version of Java and then you had to go in and actually set the library up in the Java for another one. You had to make a lot of changes and a lot of people didn't want to go through that. That is the reason why I really like the web console on it now because you can get away with not having to install the Java console. If you have to add three more steps to a process, they just don't want to use it.
How is customer service and technical support?
I have used technical support and they are very good. I've never had a problem. Usually I'll open up a case and I'll hear something back from them the same day. They're very knowledgeable with their products and very helpful, too. If I just don't have time to research something and I need it fixed, I just tell them "I need this fixed" and I never have an issue. They take care of it. They'll even connect remotely and do it themselves sometimes.
What other advice do I have?
Be patient. In its current state, I would have a representative from whoever your partner is help you with it. From what I can see, when we implemented UI, it took 2 weeks of on-site representation from our partner to help get it up and running. I think it's something that it would be less painful if you did have somebody that knew what they were doing, one of your partners or something, come and help you install it and get it installed. Then after that, start running with it. Do not do it by yourself.
I choose a vendor based on their knowledge of the product. I need them to be able to tell me what I need to know and where I can go to get information. Don't try to sell me something and then tell me you don't know how to use it. I've had that happen with some stuff. For example, by saying something like, "I'm new at this". I need the knowledge. That's what I want from you to help me to succeed, because we pay good money for this stuff. We have MSOs and everything we pay for yearly, and I really do use it. I don't have time to sit there and always research something and read something, so if I call you with an issue, I really hope you know what I'm talking about and you can help me fix it.